David Beckham put off a children’s charity visit to Downing Street to avoid losing a tax perk, it was claimed yesterday. He is pictured here at No10 during his eventual visit
David Beckham put off a children’s charity visit to Downing Street to avoid losing a tax perk, it was claimed yesterday.
He said it was a ‘problem’ when he was asked to lead a delegation of 100 youngsters on behalf of the United Nations children’s charity Unicef.
At the time, Beckham was playing in Los Angeles and therefore domiciled in the US for tax purposes.
If he travelled to the UK, it could have meant to pay more to HM Revenue and Customs. He did later undertake the visit, but on a more convenient date.
It follows revelations in leaked emails that Beckham’s knighthood was blocked by a ‘red flag’ from the taxman to warn there were issues over his tax.
When he found out he had been passed over for the gong, the 41-year-old former England captain branded the Honours Committee ‘unappreciative c***s’ and dismissed lower awards, ranting: ‘Unless it’s a knighthood f*** off’.
Last night a spokesman for Beckham said: ‘This story is based on outdated material taken out of context from hacked and doctored private emails from a third party server and gives a deliberately inaccurate picture.’
The invitation to Downing Street came in 2012 at the request of Unicef, of which Beckham is a global ambassador.
He was asked to accompany a group of children to meet then prime minister David Cameron.
Victoria Beckham was spotted going to work in New York on Monday for the first time since news of the emails broke
If he travelled to the UK, it could have meant to pay more to HM Revenue and Customs. He did later undertake the visit, but on a more convenient date. Pictured: Victoria in New York
But at the time Beckham was based in Los Angeles playing for LA Galaxy, and travelling back to his home country for the visit posed a ‘problem’, he said in hacked emails published by the Sports Leaks website.
He allegedly wrote in an email: ‘The problem for this one is that I cannot go home.’
Under HMRC rules, you can legally avoid paying UK tax if you live abroad, and while the taxman allows you to visit the UK, it is usually for no more than 90 days in each tax year
Beckham discussed the invitation with his friend and aide Dave Gardner, who questioned how to respond to Unicef because ‘obviously we cannot tell them the real reason’.
Beckham’s PR chief Simon Oliveira suggested the star remain in the US ‘for important personal reasons’, according to the leaked emails, published on various European news websites.
The France-based Mediapart website, one of those which published the emails, claimed: ‘Beckham does not want to honour the invitation for tax reasons.’
It follows revelations in leaked emails that Beckham’s knighthood was blocked by a ‘red flag’ from the taxman to warn there were issues over his tax. Pictured: Beckham in London today
When the footballer found out he had been passed over for the gong, he branded the Honours Committee ‘unappreciative c***s’
The visit was then rearranged to a more convenient date, with Beckham meeting the children at Downing Street. A Unicef spokesman confirmed: ‘David Beckham went to Downing Street on July 26, 2012, to call for more action to help children affected by malnutrition around the world.’
Last night a source close to Beckham said: ‘David is now domiciled in the UK for tax, but he wasn’t when he worked overseas. For periods of time, he was based outside the UK. He just couldn’t travel to the UK on that particular date.
‘But the Unicef event did go ahead, at a later date, so it would be wrong to say he let them down.
‘Really it’s a situation in which an event moved by a month – around a guy who was abroad with his team role and donating huge amounts of money to charity at the time.
'One of the periods David was living abroad, he was donating his entire salary to Unicef when in Paris, so it’s a bit rich to suggest that him being overseas was bad for the charity.’
The hackers who obtained the emails used them in a bid to blackmail Beckham for almost £1million, it was claimed yesterday.
The cyber criminals reportedly demanded up to a million euros (£862,000) not to expose the emails they obtained from the computer system of a sports agency run by PR chief Oliveira.
They offered to destroy the hacked material in return for ‘a generous donation’, a source told the Daily Mirror. The hackers contacted a sports agency, Doyen Sports, linked to Oliveira and his firm Doyen Global.
A spokesman for Beckham said: ‘This story is based on outdated material taken out of context from hacked and doctored private emails from a third party server and gives a deliberately inaccurate picture'
The invitation to Downing Street came in 2012 at the request of Unicef. The footballer is pictured speaking to PM David Cameron in the No10 garden
Using the name Artem Lovuzov, they told Doyen Sports’ boss Nelio Lucas: ‘The leak is a lot bigger than you imagine... a generous donation, and you can be sure that all the information I possess will be destroyed.’ Asked to define ‘generous’, the hacker said: ‘I think something between 500,000 euros and a million would be a good donation for this material, but I want to see your suggestion.’
The hack and blackmail were reported to police in Portugal, where Doyen Sports is based. Officers are reported to be investigating but refused to comment. After the blackmail attempt failed, the hacked emails were passed to the Football Leaks website. Football Leaks has denied it was involved in any blackmail plot.
They cautioned against a ‘bend it for Beckham’ rule after the Mail revealed the ex-England captain was told to sort out his taxes if he wanted a knighthood. A source close to the Honours Committee said officials entered into an extraordinary process of horse-trading with Beckham’s advisers.
Liberal Democrat John Pugh, a member of the Commons public accounts committee, said: ‘No one should be above the law and everyone should pay everything they owe.’
Labour culture spokesman Rosena Allin-Khan said: ‘It’s incredibly worrying if people who make the decisions on honours are offering advice to high-profile celebrities.’